UK Health Secretary, Sajid Javid; “it’s important that words like women and men are used” in healthcare



The UK Health Secretary appeared on a segment for Sky News’ Kay Burley. In which Sajid Javid uses his time to drop the usual dogwhistles for transphobia we are all used to, such as “sex matters”.

The segment starts with Kay Burley putting to Sajid Javid that guidance surrounding ovarian cancer has been changed to reflect the fact that anyone with ovaries can get it. Including transgender men and nonbinary people. Sajid Javid then immediately launches into a tirade in which he disagrees with the NHS on this matter.

The Health Secretary gives the statement that it’s “important that words like women and men are used so that people know who you’re talking about and something can be done about it.”

However previously in NHS issues around transgender inclusion; transgender men were not being sent letters inviting them to cervical smear tests or facing other needless delays to accessing care. Specifically due to the ideas that Sajid Javid has about how it should work.

The NHS had to alter its system after it was revealed it tried to cut corners on inviting people to smear tests. It did this by simply inviting anyone registered as female to appointments. Many transgender men and nonbinary people who require cervical smear tests were not registered as female and therefore did not get invited to those tests, putting them and their health at risk.

The system was updated and works differently now. You can opt-in or out of the reminder because it doesn’t simply work on a “are you a woman yes or no” basis. Which is good.

This transphobic battleground where in transphobes oppose the use of inclusive language is nonsensical. I understand why they do it, they view using inclusive language as capitulation to “gender identity ideology” and tacit compliance in a world they don’t believe in.

Transphobes have mobbed various cancer charities and people raising funds for cancer charities for using inclusive language.

But irrespective of their beliefs on the matter our NHS and our Health Secretary should know better; transgender people have legal rights which as one judge put it; “you are not entitled to ignore”.

The fact that transgender men and nonbinary people exist (and in the case of the former can have legal recognition of that fact) is enough to warrant the use of inclusive language. It’s not about beliefs or about ideologies, its about ensuring that people get the care they need and that requires going beyond primitive views of ‘basic biology’.

Biology is not basic, its complex and weird and we need to do more to educate people about it. Instead Sajid Javid is opting to further entrench misunderstandings due to the failings of our nation’s education system via reinforcing of ideas that just aren’t true or helpful at all.

When asked if Sajid Javid intends to pursue the changing of the wording on the NHS website, he says he will be looking into it. In what I can only describe at best as a colossal waste of time and at worst a deliberate attempt to distract the public from the myriad of Tory controversy currently going on.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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